Old ebaY follies: My ‘autographed’ ‘authentic’ ‘Full Metal Jacket’ movie poster

Back when I first got serious about collecting VDO ephemera (this was maybe 5 or 6 years ago), a dear elderly friend of mine got interested in my collection and quizzed me on items I would like to own but hadn’t acquired yet. One of the things I mentioned was the advance one sheet version of the poster for ‘Full Metal Jacket’. You can see what an authentic one looks like at this LAMP link:

http://www.learnaboutmovieposters.com/posters/db/poster.asp?pid=11583

The key to this poster is that it is the earliest US poster for FMJ (released well in advance of the theatrical release of FMJ hence the name ‘Advance One Sheet’. Today it might be also be called a ‘teaser’ poster). When authentic and in good to excellent condition, these are not inexpensive posters. At the time (circa 2000-2001), these posters sold for $100 or more a piece. To me this was a level of financial commitment I was not yet ready to make, to pay that sum (or more) for a single item.

A few months later, for my birthday I received in the mail a poster tube with a return address in Slidell, Louisana containing an ‘authentic’ Full Metal Jacket poster signed by Matthew Modine, Lee Ermey, Adam Baldwin, Dorian Harewood, and VDO. It had what I call the ‘old style’ VDO signature on it and every signature was in that silver Sharpie kind of ink. There was a ‘Certificate of Authenticity’ included with this poster that said that this ‘genuine’ movie poster had been signed by the 5 gentlemen named above at a ‘sports and collectibles show’ in the UK (ironically also on my birthdate but in 1996) and a slip of paper asking me to leave feedback for an ebaY auction seller whom I had never heard of or previously dealt with and on an auction number I had nothing to do with.

The first thing I noticed was that the poster did not say ‘Advance One Sheet’ in its lower right hand corner (study the LAMP picture carefully and you will see where the writing should be. That was not a huge deal to me. But knowing the correct size for an authentic movie poster (as opposed to a commercial movie poster reprint), I got out my tape measure and found the dimensions of this ‘genuine’ movie poster to be 26.5″ x 39″.

This was my first key that this poster was not a genuine movie poster but a reprint. If you note the following from the LAMP article on commercial reprint posters, you will understand my suspicions:

The most obvious difference is the size of the poster. Commercial posters are normally the standard size of 24”x36” or smaller. Legitimate movie posters are 27”x41” or 27”x40” “

So either my ‘genuine movie poster was a reprint or someone had cut it down in size from 27″ x 41″ to approximately 27″ x 39″.

On further study, I noticed that the poster had a very bright white glossy finish to it. I thought this was more appropriate to a piece of paper that was about 5 years old, but not to movie posters from 1986 to 1987. I expected to see a duller yellower background on an ‘authentic’ poster .

The final thing I observed was a tiny logo of a stylized person (imagine the universal restroom symbol for male from the torso up and minus any arms) and a word that looked like ‘sonis’ or ‘sonic’. I concluded that this was the logo of the commercial reprint printer.

At this point, my friend called to wish me a happy birthday and asked me if I had gotten anything nice for the occasion. I of course anticipated that he had been the one to buy me the poster from ebaY, thanked him profusely and said nothing to indicate that the dear man had been duped.

Later on by searching out the auction on ebaY I learned that he had paid close to $80 for my present and that the seller dealt in signed sports memorabilia and movie posters of questionable authenticity (as indicated by the seller’s ebaY feedback).

I did a little research into the con artist sellers, called their shop in Louisana and admonished them for taking advantage of a senior citizen (and probably other ebaY bidders as well). They of course denied responsibility, saying they bought the poster from someone in the UK and were not about to refund his money, even if I sent the poster back in substantially the same condition. So much for the COA.

My friend has now passed on, I still have the poster, I still doubt the authenticity of the signatures (what would VDO, Matthew Modine, Lee Ermey, Adam Baldwin & Dorian Harewood have been doing at a sports memorabilia show in England in 1996 and were they paid for their signatures or at least for showing up if they did indeed go to this show), and I am more suspicious of FeeBay than ever before (when I complained to them, they of course did nothing). The poster is sort of a fond item for me, because it reminds me of my friend’s generous good natured thoughtfulness, even if it is as phoney as the proverbial three dollar bill.

But I now also have an authentic FMJ Advance One Sheet (actually I have 2 of them). Neither poster is ‘signed by VDO’ and neither is anything else in my collection. I think you can understand why I make a point of avoiding signed or autographed items like the plague, especially if ebaY is their source.

As for the recent devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, the only possible good I can imagine from it would be the total destruction of this ebaY seller’s entire inventory of ‘authentic’ and ‘genuine’ items (Slidell was heavily damaged by Katrina).

I guess no collection is complete without a few fakes and the lessons learned from them :)

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